The Delta variant, which first appeared in India, has been spreading rampantly through much of the world. Developing and rich countries alike have not escaped its wrath, although vaccination rates remain pitifully low in much of the former, raising fears of overwhelmed healthcare systems. While this is all happening, a new variant has been spreading like wildfire.
However, the country has low vaccination rates, making it uniquely vulnerable to new variants.
The Lambda strain is on the World Health Organization’s radar. It has so far been spotted in at least 30 countries already, including Britain.
It is thought to have hatched in Peru, accounting for almost 81 percent of the country’s caseload since April.
Doctors in the South American nation fear is more transmissible than any other variants, based on how quickly it has spread in the country over the past four months.
Professor Pablo Tsukayama, Cayetano Heredia University, said the strain has “exploded” in Peru, with the new variant responsible for 82 percent of current cases.
He told the Financial Times that it made up just one in every 200 samples back in December, when it was first detected.
“That would suggest its rate of transmission is higher than any other variant,” Professor Tsukayama said.
The strain, also known to scientists as C.37, was marked as a “variant of interest” by the WHO last month because of its high transmissibility.
However, the jury is currently out on whether it will overtake the Delta variant.
Coronavirus-tracking researchers have yet to establish the virus is any more transmissible than existing strains.
Nonetheless, the variant’s rapid spread is concerning, particularly in regions with low vaccination rates.
The Lambda variant was detected in a traveller undergoing hotel quarantine in New South Wales in April, according to the national genomics database AusTrakka.
While there is no evidence to suggest the strain has started to spread among the community in Australia, the development raises concerns because the country lags behind others in terms of vaccination rates.
The latest figures suggest around 7.4 percent of the population have been vaccinated, amounting to 1.88 million.
In contrast, Britain has vaccinated over 50 percent of its population, with around 33.7 million people fully jabbed.
The vaccine rollout in Australia has been particularly challenging due to the way it has been logistically handled.
It has not been overseen from the Federal government and distributed out. Rather, the state and federal governments have divided the task between them.
Although there are no sigs the Lambda variant is spreading in Australia, other health experts have echoed fears about its potential.
Dr Jeffrey Barrett, head of Britain’s Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Welcome Sanger Institute, told the FT: “Lambda has a unique pattern of seven mutations in the spike protein that the virus uses to infect human cells.
“Researchers are particularly intrigued by one mutation called L452Q, which is similar to the L452R mutation to contribute to the high infectiousness of the Delta variant.”
The vaccine rollout is not uniform across Australia, as the state and federal governments have divided the task between them.
Author: Adam Chapman
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